Following up from the honor of being selected in Huffington Posts Top 12 Global Education Blogs of 2014/2015 I have been chosen again in this amazing group and for 2016/2017 will be contributing to Huffington Post’s Education blog once a month. This month we look to answer the following highly controversial question “How do we do a better job of cultivating young readers?” – here is my response:
This may be a little controversial and a little ‘big picture’ but to me there are 2 key factors in how to cultivate young readers and they are so simple you will scream. They are the same 2 factors that create happy, engaged learners. The first is get to know each student and the second is give the student a voice and choice in learning!
Image source: http://www.cli.org/category/blog/page/4/
I think it is important to state that I strongly believe you will never turn a student into an engaged reader if they do not like to read. I was never a big fan of reading because no-one took the time to help me find texts that suited my ability, interests, and passions. I was NOT engaged in reading from a young age, I lost interest and I was frustrated! So the big question is ….. how do we turn a student into an engaged reader from a young age?
- Get to know your students
- Students learn best when they are in a safe and welcoming learning environment where they are motivated to learn. When they feel comfortable about who they are learning with and their teacher supports how they learn by changing the environment to suit the varying learning styles of the students, they achieve greater success.
- Reading should be easy – if you know your students, you should know what motivates them and you should know their abilities, don’t push them to a level that is unattainable. As soon as this happens, students become disengaged in reading and lose the motivation to read! If you lose the passion, you lose engagement and you lose the opportunity to cultivate young readers!
- Engage your students in exciting learning opportunities about a topic by going on a field trip or a virtual field trip (click here for more on virtual field trips) and engage students in reading to learn more!
- Give your students a voice/choice
- Make reading opportunities accessible and easy.
- Give students a voice in what they read, when they read and how they read and cater to their needs, NOT yours!
- Don’t make reading a ‘task’, get back to the reason for reading – to learn new things (find information) and for pleasure.
- Ask your students what they want to read, talk to them on a personal level, provide opportunities to read in a variety of ways, in a variety of places and on a variety of topics.
- For older students, make reading ‘social’ and bring social media into the ‘game of reading’.
- Maybe you have students that are low and frustrated? Start with audio books. Read along, make it simple and achievable!
- Create a positive learning environment where mistakes are encouraged.
As educators, we should be role models. If we want our students to love reading, we need to love reading (or at least provide a façade). Be a role model for your students by following the suggestions above from a young age and you will see a dramatic change in attitude and passion for reading from your students. Give it a go, I DARE YOU!!!